Cua Ong temple in Cam Pha city, Quang Ninh province is closely linked to the tradition and religious culture of local people. The temple festival is the biggest of its kind in Cam Pha, attracting crowds of visitors.
Cua Ong temple is known as the only place that worships the largest number of relatives of national hero General Tran Quoc Tuan, who defended the nation against northern invaders. The temple is dedicated to Tran Quoc Tang, an outstanding general of the Tran dynasty and the third son of Tran Quoc Tuan along with the general’s aids.
There are 34 intricately carved statues in the temple. Its architecture is unique and comprises of Lower, Middle, and Upper Temples. Along the way from the Lower temple to the Upper temple, visitors can admire the beauty of Bai Tu Long Bay dotted with its numerous large and small islands. The landscape is rare and beautiful.
Bui Van Hung is a visitor from Hanoi: “We visit the temple every year to pay gratitude to General Tran Quoc Tang who defended the country’s northern border. We come here to pray for peace and happiness for all Vietnamese people.”
The Cua Ong Temple festival is held every even year and lasts for three days from the 2nd to 4thof the second lunar month with a number of ritual and festive activities. Another festival is held on the third day of the eighth lunar month to commemorate the death of the General. The festival features an opening ceremony and a palanquin procession from Cua Ong temple to a shrine in Trac Chan commune where the General was drifted in, and then back to the temple.
The procession represents a patrol of the General. The procession, a special rite of the Cua Ong Temple Festival, reflects the local people’s respect for General Tran Quoc Tang. Headed by a dragon dancing team, the procession is accompanied by several troupes in colorful costumes carrying colorful flags, and beating drums. There is also an incense offering ceremony and recreation of the legend about the General. Professor Hoang Giap of the Institute of Han-Nom Studies: “The festival is an event of local people who help safeguard Vietnam’s northeastern region. This is an occasion for people to meet and pay gratitude to generals who defended the nation.”
The festival features folk games, human chess contests, blindfolded clay pot breaking, tug of war, Quan Ho duet folk singing, and boat racing. The boat racing by northeasterners represents their welcome for the Genies and prayer for peace and bumper catch.
Pham Van Kinh, Vice Chairman of the Cam Pha Municipal People’s Committee, says the Cua Ong Temple Festival highlights the community’s establishment and development, educates moral, and aesthetic values, and inspires patriotism. Mr. Kinh said: “The Cua Ong Temple Festival was recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage. Cam Pha city has organized events to promote its cultural value. The festival will be expanded to attract more visitors.”
Since it was restored 20 years ago, the festival has promoted Vietnam’s national heroic tradition, becoming a popular destination in the northeastern region.